Review: De Twaalf is an Impressive Courtroom Drama

Courtroom dramas are truly gripping because of how they give us a glimpse of real-life legal systems. I, personally, love legal shows that walk you through meticulous court hearings and wait till the last moment to make startling revelations. But despite being quite riveting, this approach now seems to be dying as every crime drama conforms to it.

In my opinion, the best crime dramas are not the ones that reveal who committed the crime or why. The best are the ones that only show what goes on behind all the decision-making process, which leads up to the final verdict of the court. Heavily driven by its characters, ‘The Twelve’ does precisely that. Instead of being all about a murder mystery, ‘The Twelve’ explores the depths of its characters and shows what they feel about the underlying crime. As a result, it proves to be a unique and plausible take at an exhaustive genre.

The Twelve Plot Summary

Directed by Wouter Bouvijn and written by Bert Van Dael and Sanne Nuyens, the ten-part series follows the case of a woman named Frida Palmers, who is accused of killing her best friend and her own daughter. As the name suggests, 12 jurors, along with a substitute, are assigned to make an impartial, unbiased decision of Frida’s case based on the series of evidence that is presented throughout the show’s runtime. However, as the case ensues and the personal lives and backstories of the jurors unfold, it becomes evident that their final decision will be far from being unbiased. And as for the final verdict, the show leaves it to you to decide who’s guilty and who isn’t.

The Twelve Review

Of course, for commercial reasons, ‘The Twelve’ initially disguises itself in a typical who-dun-it veil. Its criminal premise is sensational, while its revelations remain unforeseen. But in the backdrop of its taut mystery, its primary conflict subtly unfolds. And ultimately, it’s the labyrinthine plot details of this backdrop that explore themes of identity and flaws in the justice system. Contrarily, this character study approach of the series may not appeal to many as it leads to an ambiguous conclusion. For me, on the other hand, it’s this approach that it made its bloated runtime worthwhile.

In some ways, ‘The Twelve’ makes you a member of its courtroom jury. It carefully drops only a few hints in each episode to make you as clueless as its twelve leading jurors. It does this purposefully to make a viewer understand that even the jurors are human, and their decision may not always be justifiable. Putting you in its jury’s shoes, the series makes you empathize with them and agree with their choices, regardless of how flawed or inherently influenced they may seem. Even when it comes to the perpetrators of the crime, or I’d rather say suspects, the show never antagonizes any of them. For a viewer, it eventually becomes a matter of personal choice who he/she wants to root for.

Without spouting legal terminologies, ‘The Twelve’ also has a realistic appeal to it as its characters are well-developed, and it presents several different perspectives to a crime. Both the defense and the prosecution’s arguments are well-balanced in each episode. Along with this, as I’ve mentioned earlier, it explores the biased opinions of the jurors as well. There’s also a subplot that gives you a pragmatic view of the media’s approach towards crime. A secondary character, who is a struggling news journalist, bribes a juror into giving him crucial information regarding the case. He then uses this information to cook up stories and tittle-tattles of news reports.

‘The Twelve’ consistently makes an effort to fill-out the motives of its characters while drawing out parallels between the trial’s latest developments and the bottom of the case. Despite its lengthy runtime, it almost leaves no stone unturned and makes every event consequential. It seems a little slow in the beginning but eventually grows on you, packing enough tension for its satisfying climax. All in all, the well-thought-out crime drama is absolutely stirring and the deep study of its characters even more so. If you have a knack for crime and courtroom dramas, I would highly recommend it. Just make sure that you are a little patient with this one as there are moments where it drags a bit but ultimately pays off well.

Rating: 4/5

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